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Old Class 3A basektball rivalries missed

December 19, 2018

Of all the years for St. Michael’s to have a state-championship caliber basketball team …

This isn’t meant to minimize the Horsemen, who by all accounts are the team to beat in the newly evolved Class 3A. And I am sure the new kids on the block will look upon this and find some words of inspiration to stick to this grizzled editor (Hey, it’s good to have a foil, right?) It’s just that, it’s not the same 3A we grew accustomed to seeing. St. Michael’s is like the kid at a school who suddenly becomes the big man on campus because of all the new faces that show up.

Remember Albuquerque Hope Christian, forever the “team to beat” in 3A? The Huskies took their six straight 3A titles and moved to Class 4A, where they’re still the favorites.

And how about Portales, Silver, Ruidoso and that blossoming Taos team? They followed Hope up the food chain.

The only ones left from the “old group” are the Las Vegas schools (Robertson and West Las Vegas) and Albuquerque Sandia Prep. I mean, who is this Navajo Prep? And Tularosa? Laguna Acoma? Raton’s back, but the Tigers’ forte wasn’t basketball anyway.

Now, those are names that Horsemen faithful will have to get to know these schools and nicknames, but … Where’s the pop?

The sizzle is kinda tame because the fat has been trimmed, and we know fat is what makes good sizzle. So forgive a crusty old guy for pining for those days of Huskies-Horsemen and Rams-Cardinals. I remember the halcyon days of Class 3A. It was a class of like-minded programs — too big for most of 2A, and scary enough that 4A and 5A teams couldn’t take them lightly.

The Horsemen. The Dons. The Bernalillo Spartans. The Grants Pirates. The Lovington Wildcats. Even Hope Christian had to earn its wings when it came up from 2A in 2006.

Alas, those days are long gone. Change is a constant and we all have to yield to it. Still, it sure would have been nice to see how this group of Horsemen could have fared against those old 3A teams. St. Michael’s has a demanding schedule, what with Friday’s game against Santa Fe High and then Clovis’ Griego and Sons Tournament that starts Dec. 27. The Horsemen could likely face the host Wildcats or Albuquerque Volcano Vista, one of the top teams in 5A.

January brings Capital, and Silver will be a part of the Horsemen Shootout, and of course Robertson, West Las Vegas and Santa Fe Indian School will be tough tests come the District 2-3A season. So, St. Michael’s will be battle tested for its March run.

We can expect the Vegas schools, the Braves and the Sundevils to make the path to a 3A title difficult, and some of those 2A schools that moved up will surely flex their muscles and show they belong.

It just won’t feel the same, though.

We’ve been spoiled by the past

18 years, that’s all.

James Barron writes an opinion column about sports in New Mexico. Contact Barron at 505-986-3045 or jbarron@sfnewmexican.com.

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